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Chevrolet Cruze 2009 Road Test

Thu, 18 Jun 2009

I first saw the Chevrolet Cruze, a rather pretty Focus-sized car at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008.

It’s actually Chevrolet’s new ‘world’ car based on its ‘Delta 2’ platform and competes in WTCC Touring car races. Unusually, it’s available only as a four-door saloon, but a five-door hatch is on the way.

The proportions of the body are very pleasing from all angles. And though ‘C Sector saloons aren’t offered by many manufacturers, they are precisely what a lot of people want, particularly the recently retired who have got hooked on golf.

The large 450-litre boot easily swallows two sets of clubs lying sideways in the handy indentations behind of the wheel-arches, with enough space for two compact trolleys tucked away in front of them.

Another unusual but much requested feature is height-adjustable driver and passenger seats across the range, starting with the £11,495 1.6 S model, which also has air-conditioning, electric front windows and electric mirrors.

Sold already? I’ll go on. The fascia is nicely styled with the radio controls set sensibly high. There are adjustable cup-holders between the front seats and bottle-holders in the doors. There’s enough leg and headroom for three across the back.

Out on the road, the steering is light, but with enough ‘feel’ to let you know what the wheels are doing. Our 1.6S could hardly be called a tearaway, but it had only done 600 miles, so the engine was still ‘tight’. Handling and roadholding are perfectly safe, and fine for most people’s requirements. North West Monsoonal weather conditions ensured we checked that out with due diligence.

In contrast, the 2.0 150PS diesel LT at a rather more money grabbing £15,195 (£3,700 more than the perfectly adequate 1.6S) at first seemed a disappointment. When the engine is relatively cold there’s very little pulling power under 2,000rpm and it’s reluctant to trickle along at low revs. It improves as it warms up, but the fuel metering is nothing like as precise as a VAG Piezo system and can leave the engine gasping if you leave it in too high a gear when you’re turning into a roundabout, for instance.

But eventually I got used to it, and also to its inclination to understeer, which can be countered by letting it move a little bit on its tyres. I guess if I could settle into the car in half an hour, any owner could in a day or two. But I’d still question the wisdom of forking out that extra £3,700 for the benefit of just nine more miles per gallon on the combined cycle.

The cheaper, lower spec 125PS version, coming late summer, will obviously narrow this particular gap, of course.

Finally, we got to try the 1.8LT automatic that comes in at £14,695. Though a 6-speeder, it doesn’t hunt between gears in the 30 and 40 limits and is pleasant to drive. On the motorway it cruises at the same relaxed 35mph per 1,000 rpm in 6th as the diesel does in its top gear. Its disadvantage, of course, is a relatively high CO2 of 184g/km that puts it in Band J and sets you back £215 in VED this year, then £235 next year.

In contrast, the diesels are band F at £125 this year and next year, the 1.6 petrol is 159g/km, so Band G at £150 this year and £155 next year.

To my mind, though the LS and LT offer a lot of kit for the money, the basic 1.6S has everything you really need and, at the introductory offer price of £11,495, makes a very sensible buy.

It’s got everything most people are likely to want, it drives, rides and handles decently, and it’s a really good looking car.

for prices, specs, engines, transmissions, dimensions and performance figure please click the tabs

More at www.chevrolet.co.uk

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